(i actually pretty much write exclusively depressed levi, and luckily i’m in a mental spot on par with sadwin atm so this was pretty cathartic to write.)
years have a way of making nothing into something. hard barrack beds become comfortable. soldiers become friends.
nothing quite hits erwin as much as mike’s death. it hurts more than his phantom limb, and he tries his best to push on past his grief. but it’s only been a week since he regained consciousness, a few days since he learned that titans are humans, and he finds that time is a thing that reveals truths if he allows it to.
and it’s a good feeling, briefly. he loses himself in his own rapture, pride and happiness swelling in his chest before wilting like a flower inside of his rib cage. levi looks at him, cautions him with his name, and it sobers him. brings him back down to earth, to a reality where his men die by strangers turned into mindless, pointless monsters.
he says he owes them more than his arm. internally, he knows he owes them his life a thousand times over
two decades in the survey corps is a rarity, a fluke, a blip in the system. mike was never supposed to be his friend. and truthfully, erwin always thought he would die before mike. mike was the strongest of them after all, and commanders never lived long after they took the bolo. the weight of all his men, all of their sacrifices, all of the things they learned along the way presses down into him, makes it harder for him to breathe as he tries to find rest at his desk.
but damn, if mike is the heaviest.
erwin rises from his chair, dizzy from pain, and holds his hand on his desk until he stops the room from spinning. he leaves his office and goes to the armory. nobody’s there, and that’s good. time multiplies itself by ten, and it takes him a whole hour to get his scabbards attached to his thighs. he squeezes the unhooked trigger in his hand, feels its awkwardness in his grip and wonders if he’ll ever even be able to fly again. he attaches the cables, checks the gas, hears it wheeze out, deflated and exhausted like him. he goes to the stables, looks at the saddles and the bridles and decides that walking will get him there faster.
he leaves headquarters, the moon shining high in the sky and lighting his way along the edges of the wall. he looks up, feels how tall 50 meters is, and how devastatingly horrendous his bones would break if he fell from it. can he fly, he wonders again. a bird with its wings clipped is not a bird at all.
he aims his anchor and lets it grapple somewhere halfway up the wall. he makes the calculations. his weight being supported by one grapple is a considerable risk, but he wants to be up there. he reels himself up, his feet kicking off the wall as the gear sputters despite itself. it hiccups once, causing erwin to cough out a sound of surprise as he falls a meter down. he looks at the ground, lets it sober him.
damn, he’s high up.
he makes it to the top, struggles over the edge, undignified and on his knees. he rolls onto his back and lets his legs hang off the edge, and he feels so close to the stars that he tries to reach out and touch them.
there used to be a time when he owned any type of purity. where happiness was found between the covers of new books and a smile on his father’s face. as he grew, he tried to deny himself all of that. he feigned a smile when nile told him about his first child with marie. he tried not to gravitate toward mike’s stoic strength. he didn’t want to fall in love with levi.
there’s the distinct whizzing sound of a reel and the soft patter of boots as they land gracefully on the top of the wall. they shuffle briefly and stop.
he wonders how many more of his men he can see die. humanity can only hold him up for so long, the cruel words spitting at him as they go outside of the walls, weathering him away like stones in a river. he’s replaceable, a fluke, a blip in the system. his expiration date came and passed. why is he still here when mike isn’t?
he struggles to sit up, his hand gripping to the edge of the wall. being up here this high feels different now. he’s less in control now with only one arm, and everything feels so vast when all he wants to be is swallowed by it. he turns his head, sees a silhouette and he lets his head turn back and hang.
there is going to be no reprieve from his hell, not until he is dead. but jumping from this wall is not how to end it. only one commander in the whole of the survey corps history died by his own hand. he would not become the second. not after he had been standing on so many corpses to get here.
when erwin’s wrong, levi is right. standing there in his protective silence, guarding erwin from himself in a time of lost desperation. this isn’t the answer. don’t die like this. i’ll never forgive you.
erwin nods, but he doesn’t stop hating how he is the one that survived. always the one to survive.
Levi in AU fanfics:
Rich, probably. Most likely a business man. Sometimes a cop or a mafia boss. Probably owns a store or something. Rides a motorcycle or a fancy sports car. Has a big house. He's just a rank just under Erwin's CEO status or something. Maybe he's some kind of artist or writer. A college or high school professor.
- mike was humanity’s second strongest after levi, NOT mikasa
- bertholdt is NOT the tallest character, mike is (6'5" golly gosh)
- mike is so underrated like he has a bunch of cool skills involving being able to smell and sense titans from like a mile off
mike wins award for most under-appreciated aot character everyone else go home